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Using Social Media to Enhance Face-to-Face Encounters

By: Rob Murphy
Posted: November 1, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Leading up to the event, HBA also hosted online educational webinars for exhibitors to enable them to hear about activities and opportunities within HBA, to promote themselves and their products, and to learn better exhibiting practices. A new on-site feature at the HBA event at the Javits Center in New York was the Social Media Lounge, which brought HBA’s social media communities together and housed expanded programming and tutorials.

“This year, we hosted our first Tweet-Up at HBA, which allowed us to meet face-to-face with people we have been engaging in dialogue with for months,” says Birkett. “It was also a great networking opportunity for those in attendance, and we were able to transcend the convention center and share the HBA experience with remote tweeters, as well.”

When taking advantage of show management’s efforts, don’t forget the rules of engagement. Comment on posts, retweet the show organizer’s tweets, use the hashtag in your tweets, “like” Facebook posts, offer solutions, participate in pre-show social media conversations to promote your presence at the show, and don’t just talk about yourself.

Continue the Conversation Beyond the Show

Follow-up is critical after any business encounter. If you stop talking and engaging, you’ve lost your audience. Social media allows for an effective and efficient way to keep the conversation going with attendees after the show. Just because the show is over, don’t stop using the hashtag. Also, get personal with your leads and connections developed before and at the show. “Before a show, brands and media are using social media to communicate directly and set up onsite meetings,” notes Nelson. “For instance, I used Twitter to announce: ‘I’ll be at Cosmoprof—let me know if you want me to stop by your booth.’ Brands that stood out to me were those that engaged with me virtually, gave the personal face-to-face time, and used that connection to continue the conversation after the show.”

An integrated marketing strategy employing consistent themes and branding through all communication channels is essential to maintaining a company’s competitive edge. Face-to-face interaction will help form the strong bonds that lead to long-lasting business relationships, while virtual communication will keep dialogue going with prospects and customers fresh and lively year-round.